Football Article

2011-12 English Premier League Club-by-Club Preview

The new English Premier League season gets underway this weekend, so Sports Pundit decided it’d be an appropriate time to analyse each club and where they will be in 10 months time.wayne rooney manchester united goals

Manchester United

Last season: Champions (23 wins, 11 draws, 4 Losses, 78-37)

Topscorer: Dimitar Berbatov (20 goals)

Most assists: Nani (18 assists)

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Major Signings: David De Gea (Atletico Madrid - €20m), Phil Jones (Blackburn – £16.5m), Ashley Young (Aston Villa - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Corry Evans (Hull City – Undisclosed), Bebe (Besiktas – Loan), Ritchie de Laet (Norwich City – Loan), Edwin van der Sar (retired), Gary Neville (retired), Paul Scholes (retired), Owen Hargreaves (released), Wes Brown (Sunderland – Undisclosed), John O’Shea (Sunderland – Undisclosed), Gabriel Obertan (Newcastle - Undisclosed)

The champions have lost veteran trio Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, but Sir Alex Ferguson has replenished the side with Spanish keeper David de Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones. De Gea has a big job ahead, but the Red Devils appear strong once again with Wayne Rooney expected to lead the way.

Key player: Wayne Rooney

Prediction: Champions

Chelseafernando torres chelsea

Last season: Runners-up (21 wins, 8 draws, 9 Losses, 69-33)

Topscorer: Florent Malouda (13 goals)

Most assists: Didier Drogba (15 assists)

Manager: Andre Villas-Boas

Major Signings: Romelu Lukaku (Anderlecht), Oriol Romeu (FC Barcelona - £4.35m)

Major Departures: Michael Mancienne (Hamburg SV - £1.75m), Jeffrey Bruma (Hamburg SV – Loan), Danny Philliskirk (Sheffield United – Free), Jack Cork (Southampton - £750k), Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi - Undisclosed)

Andre Villas-Boas is Chelsea’s major acquisition this off-season after Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed. There’s no major player additions, except for two youngsters in Lukaku and Romeu who could add something to the side. Villas-Boas did great things at Porto last term and if he can inspire Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien back to their best they can win the title.

Key player: Didier Drogba

Prediction: Runners-up

Manchester Citysergio aguero

Last season: 3rd (21 wins, 8 draws, 9 Losses, 60-33)

Topscorer: Carlos Tevez (20 goals)

Most assists: David Silva (9 assists)

Manager: Roberto Mancini

Major Signings: Emmanuel Adebayor (Real Madrid – Loan Return), Gael Clichy (Arsenal - £7m), Stefan Savic (Partizan Belgrade – Undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Costel Pantilimon (Politehnica Timisoara - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Felipe Caicedo (Levante - €1m – Permanent), Javi Garrido (released), Patrick Vieira (released), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich – Undisclosed), Shay Given (Aston Villa – Undisclosed), Jo (Internacional – Undisclosed), Michael Johnson (Leicester City - Loan)

Roberto Mancini’s Sky Blues achieved great things last term by winning the FA Cup and cliniching UEFA Champions League qualification, so now the expectations will be raised. Sergio Aguero’s arrival is a major boost, but how he’ll adjust to English football is a question. So too is Carlos Tevez’s future at the club. Samir Nasri could be a big signing if the deal goes through.

Key player: Carlos Tevez

Prediction: 3rd

Arsenalrobin van persie arsenal

Last season: 4th (19 wins, 11 draws, 8 Losses, 72-43)

Topscorer: Robin van Persie (18 goals)

Most assists: Cesc Fabregas (14 assists)

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Major Signings: Gervinho (Lille – Undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Gael Clichy (Manchester City - £7m), Denilson (Sao Paulo - Loan)

The Gunners had promised to be active in the transfer market but have failed to follow through with those plans. Now it appears Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will leave the club leaving them well short of the quality required to challenge for the title. Arsene Wenger may have a difficult campaign ahead.

Key player: Thomas Vermaelen

Prediction: 5th

Tottenhamluka modric tottenham

Last season: 5th (16 wins, 14 draws, 8 Losses, 55-46)

Topscorer: Rafael van der Vaart (13 goals)

Most assists: Rafael van der Vaart (8 assists)

Manager: Harry Redknapp

Major Signings: Giovani dos Santos (Racing Santander – Loan Return), Brad Friedel (Aston Villa – Undisclosed), Souleymane Coulibaly (Siena - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Jamie O’Hara (Wolverhampton - £5m Permanent), Jonathan Woodgate (released), Paul-Jose M’Poku (Standard Liege – Undisclosed), Kyle Naughton (Norwich City – Loan), Bongani Khumalo (Reading - Loan)

Spurs fans can expect wheeler and dealer Harry Redknapp to do some business before the transfer window closes and if he can grab another player such as van der Vaart (like he did last season), then the team will be in good shape. Friedel arrives to shore up the defence after Heurelho Gomes’ numerous gaffes last term. This is still a strong Spurs side (especially if Luka Modric stays), without Champions League commitments too.

Key player: Luka Modric

Prediction: 6th

Liverpoolluis suarez liverpool

Last season: 6th (17 wins, 7 draws, 14 Losses, 59-44)

Topscorer: Dirk Kuyt (13 goals)

Most assists: Dirk Kuyt (7 assists)

Manager: Kenny Dalglish

Major Signings: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland - £16m), Charlie Adam (Blackpool – Undisclosed), Doni (AS Roma – Undisclosed), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa – Undisclosed), Jose Enrique (Newcastle - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Paul Konchesky (Leicester City – Undisclosed), Milan Jovanovic (Standard Liege – Undisclosed), Daniel Ayala (Norwich City - Undisclosed)

It’s been a sensational off-season of optimism for Liverpool, with Kenny Dalglish doing all the rights things during the European summer. The addition of British players such as Henderson, Adam and Downing has given the Anfield faithful plenty of reason for hope. With a full season under Dalglish and with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll on board, there’s an expectation for a top-four finish at least.

Key player: Luis Suarez

Prediction: 4th

Aston Villadarren bent aston villa

Last season: 9th (12 wins, 12 draws, 14 Losses, 48-59)

Topscorer: Darren Bent (9 goals)

Most assists: Ashley Young (10 assists)

Manager: Alex McLeish

Major Signings: Shay Given (Manchester City – Undisclosed), Charles N’Zogbia (Wigan - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Brad Friedel (Tottenham – Undisclosed), Ashley Young (Manchester United – Undisclosed), John Carew (released), Isaiah Osbourne (released), Robert Pires (released), Nigel Reo-Coker (released), Moustapha Salifou (released), Stewart Downing (Liverpool - Undisclosed)

After the Villans lost a string of key players such as Friedel, Young and Downing, the club’s new boss Alex McLeish has done well to replace them with Irish stopper Given and French winger N’Zogbia who are top quality. Villa should be comfortable in midtable.

Key player: Charles N’Zogbia

Prediction: 14th

Blackburnchris samba blackburn

Last season: 15th (11 wins, 10 draws, 17 Losses, 46-59)

Topscorer: David Hoilett, Jason Roberts & Nikola Kalinic (5 goals)

Most assists: Morten Gamst Pedersen (6 assists)

Manager: Steve Kean

Major Signings: David Goodwillie (Dundee United - £2.8m), Radoslav Petrovic (Partizan Belgrade – Undisclosed), Bruno Ribeiro (Gremio), Mauro Formica (Newell’s Old Boys)

Major Departures: Phil Jones (Manchester United – £16.5m), Jason Brown (released), Zurab Khizanishvili (released), Benjani Mwaruwari (released), Nikola Kalinic (Dnipro – Undisclosed), Keith Andrews (Ipswich Town - Loan)

There’s some concern about Steve Kean’s tenure at Blackburn, with the club losing some good players over the European summer, however if they can retain Chris Samba alongside Ryan Nelsen they should be solid enough to stay up. If David Dunn stays fit, they can finish top-half.

Key player: Chris Samba

Prediction: 16th

Boltonkevin davies bolton

Last season: 14th (12 wins, 10 draws, 16 Losses, 52-56)

Topscorer: Johan Elmander (10 goals)

Most assists: Johan Elmander (6 assists)

Manager: Owen Coyle

Major Signings: Darren Pratley (Swansea City – Free), Nigel Reo-Coker (un-attached), Chris Eagles (Burnley – Undisclosed), Tyrone Mears (Burnley – Undisclosed), Tuncay Sanli (Wolfsburg - Loan)

Major Departures: Johan Elmander (Galatasaray – Free), Ali Al Habsi (Wigan - £4m), Tamir Cohen (released), Joey O’Brien (released), Jlloyd Samuel (released), Matthew Taylor (West Ham - Undisclosed)

Owen Coyle’s Trotters won a lot of admirers with their football last term but ended the campaign down in 14th. Johan Elmander has left and he provided a lot of threat in attack. Keeping defender Gary Cahill will provide solidity, while Tuncay could add the required spark in attack.

Key player: Kevin Davies

Prediction: 9th

Evertonleighton baines everton

Last season: 7th (13 wins, 15 draws, 10 Losses, 51-45)

Topscorer: Tim Cahill (9 goals)

Most assists: Leighton Baines (11 assists)

Manager: David Moyes

Major Signings: Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon - Loan)

Major Departures: James Vaughan (Norwich City – Undisclosed), Iain Turner (released)

David Moyes’ Toffees are incredibly consistent as a side able to finish in the top-half of the Premier League year after year. They’ve not gone out and bought any significant talent during the European summer but have some good players, such as Mikel Arteta, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka, who will ensure they finish in the top-half yet again.

Key player: Mikel Arteta

Prediction: 7th

Fulhambrede hangeland fulham

Last season: 8th (11 wins, 16 draws, 11 Losses, 49-43)

Topscorer: Clint Dempsey (12 goals)

Most assists: Bobby Zamora (5 assists)

Manager: Martin Jol

Major Signings: Marcel Gecov (Liberec), John Arne Riise (AS Roma – Undisclosed), Patjim Kasami (Palermo)

Major Departures: Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace – Undisclosed), Zoltan Gera (released), Eddie Johnson (released), Diomansy Kamara (released), John Pantsil (released), Jon Greening (Nottingham Forest), David Stockdale (Ipswich - Loan)

Mark Hughes left the Cottage in the off-season, but Fulham have done well to lure proven Premier League manager Martin Jol to London. Fulham have lost some talent but this is a solid squad with players like Mark Schwarzer, Brede Hangeland and Clint Dempsey able to ensure they’ll avoid a relegation fight.

Key player: Brede Hangeland

Prediction: 10th

Newcastle Unitedjoey barton newcastle

Last season: 12th (11 wins, 13 draws, 14 Losses, 56-57)

Topscorer: Kevin Nolan (12 goals)

Most assists: Joey Barton (9 assists)

Manager: Alan Pardew

Major Signings: Yoann Cabaye (Lille – Undisclosed), Demba Ba (West Ham – Undisclosed), Sylvain Marveaux (Rennes – Undisclosed), Mehdi Abeid (Lens – Free), Gabriel Obertan (Manchester United - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Kevin Nolan (West Ham – Undisclosed), Ben Tozer (Northampton – Free), Sol Campbell (released), Shefki Kuqi (released), Wayne Routledge (Swansea City), Xisco (Deportivo Coruna – Loan), Jose Enrique (Liverpool)

The Magpies have lost some good players during the off-season, with Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan the main two. Joey Barton’s future has been a hot topic but he appears likely to stay now and his creativity will be important. Demba Ba is a good forward option, while there’s a few French talents who’ve joined too.

Key player: Fabricio Coloccini

Prediction: 11th

Norwich Citygrant holt norwich

Last season: 2nd in Championship (23 wins, 15 draws, 8 Losses, 83-58)

Topscorer: Grant Holt (21 goals)

Most assists: Grant Holt (14 assists)

Manager: Paul Lambert

Major Signings: James Vaughan (Everton – Undisclosed), Steve Morison (Millwall – Undisclosed), Elliott Bennett (Brighton – Undisclosed), Ritchie de Laet (Manchester United – Loan), Bradley Johnson (Leeds United – Free), Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield – Undisclosed), Kyle Naughton (Tottenham – Loan), Daniel Ayala (Liverpool - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Matt Gill (released), Jens Berthel Askou (released)

Paul Lambert has signed a bunch of players who are unproven at the top level but may have a point to prove. How he motivates his players will be important but he’s done well to attract plenty of talent to Carrow Road. Grant Holt is a key man for this side but can he be effective in the Premier League?

Key player: Grant Holt

Prediction: 19th

QPRadel taarabt qpr

Last season: Champions in Championship (24 wins, 16 draws, 6 Losses, 71-32)

Topscorer: Adel Taarabt (19 goals)

Most assists: Adel Taarabt (16 assists)

Manager: Neil Warnock

Major Signings: Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff City – Free), Kieron Dyer (West Ham – Free), Danny Gabbidon (West Ham – Free), DJ Campbell (Blackpool – Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Mikele Leigertwood (Reading – Undisclosed), Pascal Chimbonda (released), Gavin Mahon (released)

Neil Warnock is back in the Premier League with Championship winners QPR, who have added several players from relegated clubs. Former England midfielder Dyer is a gamble, while DJ Campbell showed he can score goals without needed many chances. However, QPR may rely too much on Moroccan maestro Adel Taarabt who may find the Premier League tough.

Key player: Adel Taarabt

Prediction: 15th

Stoke Citymatthew etherington stoke city

Last season: 13th (13 wins, 7 draws, 18 Losses, 46-48)

Topscorer: Kenwyne Jones (9 goals)

Most assists: Jermaine Pennant (8 assists)

Manager: Tony Pulis

Major Signings: Matthew Upson (West Ham – Free), Jonathon Woodgate (Tottenham - Free)

Major Departures: Abdoulaye Diagne-Faye (West Ham – Free), Eidur Gudjohnsen (released), Ibrahima Sonko (released)

The FA Cup runners-up have added two former England internationals in Upson and Woodgate and they certainly fit the mould of this club. Matthew Etherington’s threat on the flank will be crucial to supplying big men Kenwyne Jones and Jonathon Walters. Stoke seem to have the answers to staying in the top flight under Tony Pulis and should be pretty safe.

Key player: Matthew Etherington

Prediction: 12th

Sunderlandasamoah gyan sunderland

Last season: 10th (12 wins, 11 draws, 15 Losses, 45-56)

Topscorer: Asamoah Gyan (10 goals)

Most assists: Jordan Henderson & Asamoah Gyan (4 assists)

Manager: Steve Bruce

Major Signings: Ahmed Elmohamady (ENPPI – Undisclosed Permanent), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham City – Free), Keiren Westwood (Coventry City – Free), Connor Wickham (Ipswich Town - £8.1m), Craig Gardner (Birmingham City - £6m), Ji Dong-Won (Chunnam Dragons – Undisclosed), Roarie Deacon (Arsenal – Free), Wes Brown (Manchester United – Undisclosed), John O’Shea (Manchester United – Undisclosed), David Vaughan (Blackpool - Free)

Major Departures: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool - £16m), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor – Loan), Boudewijn Zenden (released), Steed Malbranque (Saint Etienne), George McCartney (West Ham - Loan)

Following the sales of Henderson and Darren Bent last January, Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has decided to enter the transfer market. He’s made a number of good acquisitions too, from proven players such as Wes Brown and John O’Shea, to talents such as Seb Larsson and Connor Wickham. Sunderland can push for the top half.

Key player: Asamoah Gyan

Prediction: 8th

Swansea Citybrendan rodgers swansea

Last season: 3rd in Championship (24 wins, 8 draws, 14 Losses, 69-42)

Topscorer: Scott Sinclair (19 goals)

Most assists: Stephen Dobbie (10 assists)

Manager: Brendan Rodgers

Major Signings: Danny Graham (Watford - £3.5m), Steven Caulker (Tottenham – Loan), Jose Moreira (Benfica – Undisclosed), Leroy Lita (Middlesbrough - £1.75m), Wayne Routledge (Newcastle – Undisclosed), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht - £1.5m)

Major Departures: Scott Donnelly (Wycombe – Loan), Dorus de Vries (Wolverhampton – Free), Darren Pratley (Bolton - Free)

It’s going to be a big ask for Swansea to retain their top flight status this term. Brendan Rodgers has never managed there before, nor have many of his players played there before. Leroy Lita adds some pace and power to the attack, while Dutch keeper Michel Vorm replaces de Vries.

Key player: Ferrie Bodde

Prediction: 20th

West Browmichpeter odemwingie west bromwich

Last season: 11th (12 wins, 11 draws, 15 Losses, 56-71)

Topscorer: Peter Odemwingie (13 goals)

Most assists: Chris Brunt (9 assists)

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Major Signings: Gareth McAuley (Ipswich Town – Free), Billy Jones (Preston North End – Free), Ben Foster (Birmingham City – Undisclosed), Zoltan Gera (Fulham – Free), Marton Fulop (Ipswich Town – Free), Shane Long (Reading - Undisclosed)

Major Departures: Scott Carson (Bursaspor – Undisclosed), Borja Valero (Villarreal – Undisclosed), Abdoulaye Meite (released), Giles Barnes (released), Gianni Zuiverloon (Real Mallorca), Boaz Myhill (Birmingham City - Loan)

Roy Hodgson added a lot of stability to the Albion backline after his arrival last season and they’ll be looking to push on. Ben Foster is a good signing in goals, while Shane Long could help Peter Odemwingie fire in the goals for WBA. Hodgson’s sides are always tough to break down and the Baggies should be well and truly safe under him.

Key player: Peter Odemwingie

Prediction: 13th

Wiganvictor moses wigan

Last season: 16th (9 wins, 15 draws, 14 Losses, 40-61)

Topscorer: Charles N’Zogbia (9 goals)

Most assists: Charles N’Zogbia (5 assists)

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Major Signings: Ali Al Habsi (Bolton - £4m), David Jones (Wolverhampton – Free), Nouha Dicko (Strasbourg - Free)

Major Departures: Steven Caldwell (Birmingham City - Free), Daniel de Ridder (released), Jason Koumas (released), Antonio Amaya (Real Betis), Charles N’Zogbia (Aston Villa – Undisclosed), Mauro Boselli (Estudiantes – Loan), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United – Loan Return)

Roberto Martinez has a big job keeping Wigan in the Premier League this season, after a narrow final day escap last term. The loss of influential midfielder Charles N’Zogbia is a major blow and the Latics haven’t suitably replaced him yet. Tom Cleverley has gone back to Old Trafford too, leaving some big holes to fill in midfield.

Key player: Ben Watson

Prediction: 17th

Wolverhamptonsteven fletcher wolverhampton

Last season: 17th (11 wins, 7 draws, 20 Losses, 46-66)

Topscorer: Steven Fletcher (10 goals)

Most assists: Matthew Jarvis (6 assists)

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Major Signings: Jamie O’Hara (Tottenham - £5m Permanent), Dorus de Vries (Swansea City – Free), Roger Johnson (Birmingham City)

Major Departures: Steven Mouyokolo (Sochaux – Loan), Adriano Basso (released), Marcus Hahnemann (released), David Jones (released), Greg Halford (Portsmouth)

Mick McCarthy’s side avoided relegation with a good finish to last season but the challenge will be there again for a club who seem to yoyo up and down the top two divisions. However, with Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle up front, they’ve got the firepower needed, while Roger Johnson adds some steel to their backline.

Key player: Roger Johnson

Prediction:18th

Ben somerford
Ben Somerford Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford

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